SACRAMENTO, Calif. - On the morning of November 9th, people across the state will hear those familiar tones or see that test message across their screens saying "this is a test." The difference this time is that this test is happening across the nation, all at the same time. It will be a first-ever nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) giving federal, state and local officials the opportunity to make sure vital life-safety information can be communicated from the nation's capital to the public via broadcasters and cable operators.
"Following a national or regional emergency, the ability of federal officials to address the public through EAS and other platforms is critical for public safety," said Mike Dayton, Acting Secretary of the California Emergency Management Agency. "This EAS test is an excellent opportunity for local, state and federal emergency officials as well as EAS participants to identify and address potential problems in the system before another real emergency occurs."
Quick Facts about this Nationwide Test
- Wednesday, November 9, 2011 at 11:00 am (PST)
- You will hear the familiar EAS tone, a voice say "this is a test," and potentially see a message on your television or radio
- It will last less than 4 minutes
- No action is needed or required on the part of the public
Officials say the nationwide test, as well as the common weekly and monthly EAS tests should reassure the public that local, state and federal officials are doing what they can to ensure emergency information and instructions are available.
While the public does not need to take any action during the test, Dayton urged Californians to take this opportunity to review and update their emergency plans and replenish their emergency supplies. They may also wish to use the test as a chance to test their own emergency plans.
The nationwide EAS test is being coordinated by the Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Weather Service (NWS).
Federal officials will initiate the three and half minute test from Washington, DC and it will activate EAS systems across the nation. A "live" EAS alert will be transmitted to broadcast, cable, and satellite radio and television stations. The test will look very much like the standard monthly local EAS tests that most people are familiar with. Audio messages will repeat "This is a test" but video text at the bottom of the television screens may vary in each county based on the equipment of the television stations. Once the test is completed, regular programming will resume and broadcasters, cable, and satellite providers will provide the FCC with details of their participation.
Although FEMA has not previously conducted a nationwide test of the EAS, it has twice conducted tests of the national EAS code in Alaska.